Friday, 8 April 2011

Day 235- The Maharajah's Household


Amer or Amber Fort , in Amber, 13 km from Jaipur

On a hilltop overlooking the Maota lake, in the ancient capital city of the Rajputs (between the 12th-18th century) called Amber, is a fortified complex that has taken two centuries to build. Inside the foreboding exterior housed some of the most beautiful royal palaces, houses and temples of  the Rajput royalty. In the days of yore, this citadel was a palace, an administrative headquarters and a strategic military bastion. 

This is a strip of 2 photographs, badly joined of elephants riding into the palace.

In the past, the return of the Maharajah and his victorious army was usually celebrated with much pomp and music. Drums and flowers accompanied the royal guards on their elephants as they trotted into the King's home, eager to display their war's earnings at the courtyard. This experience is now being offered to tourists at a very affordable price.

Diwan-i-Aam-The Public Audience Hall just outside the palace gate

One of the first hall we see at the courtyard and just before we enter the palace is the Diwan-i-Aam or the Public Audience Hall. Where the king sits, the view confronting him is not only the crowd of his people but also the majestic Aravalli Mountains

Jai Mandir Hall situated just next to the Diwan-i-Aam- Inspiring the dining room of Devi Ratn?

In the movie, Jodhaa Akbar, there  is a spectacular scene where Emperor Akbar had an audience with his advisers and met the public who have come to see him with their grievances. This scene was shot here at Amer Fort. 

Hindu yogis or wandering sadhus(?) walking to the temple and passing both halls

Even after the royal palace and houses of prominent persons shifted to Jaipur in 1724, the priests of the Shila Devi temple in Amber Fort who were Bengali Brahmins continued to live in the fort (to this date).

Ganesh Pol (Pol meaning gate in Rajasthan) leading to the residences of the Maharajah. 
Note the filigree screens on the 2nd floor.

Welcome to my "humble" abode?

Jalli (filigreed) screens to shield the women in the harem from the public

The concept of Harem was brought in by the Muslim rulers who ruled Hindustan for nearly 900 years. The harem and its ethos were imported from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Women of the harem were not allowed to venture outside without being shielded from the public eye. 

View through the jalli

Filigree screens or jallis were built in the palaces to allow these women glimpses of  the world  outside the harem.

Back of Ganesh Pol

Charbagh or Paradise Garden (Bagh means garden in Rajasthan)

To keep the women in the palace happy, their quarters were built mainly to please their senses. Advanced in their civil engineering, the Amer palaces and gardens were cooled and scented ingeniously. For example, perfumes were strategically placed in inlets that brought in the monsoon water. As the water flowed over these perfumes, the room would suddenly be  delicately scented with its soft fragrance. The water would then be led through pipes or drain to flow further down  into the central garden.

View through window inside the palace to Kesar Kyari Bagh at the center of Maota Lake

Kesar Kyari Bagh

Kesar Kyari Bagh means the Garden of Saffron because it was used to grow mainly saffron. Imagine when the saffron flowers bloomed, how their  fragrance would waft up into the private quarters of the ladies for their enjoyment. It was also said that this garden was designed to look like a traditional Persian rug when all the flowers were in full bloom.

Facade :The Zenanas or Women Palaces

The Zenanas is a series of exclusive chambers for the queens linked by a general hallway. Designed very cleverly to give privacy to each queen of the Maharajah, none of the other women was to know when or who the Maharajah visited for the night. 

Chamber of the favoured Queen

To provide ease of visits by the Maharajah, the favoured queen would occupy the most elaborately decorated chamber closest to the Maharajah's apartment. These rooms have frescoes depicting love scenes between Krishna and Leela in the courtyards, much like how the Maharajah and his queens would enjoy their time together.

Ladies taking a break . Simple but effective brooms.  

On maidservants in the harem, this is what was said by one of the Maharanis of Jodhpur:

The newly-married bride never came to her husband's home alone. To add to the staff already provided by her husband, she brought a retinue of her own servant women who had attended her as a young girl and with whom she had close bonds. 'My mother had hundreds of maids, mostly from Osian where she came from,' recalls Padmavati Devi of Jodhpur, Maharani of Baroda. 'Since there were umpteen relatives each with umpteen members of their retinues and then the retinues' umpteen staff, there were hundreds of women in the Jodhpur zanana, but it was like one big happy family. ("Within the Zanana").

 Intricately carved windows

As we near the end of our tour of the Amber Fort Palace, a stroll along the winding corridors leading to the exit reveal what must once be pristine and intricate carvings of windows

but now broken and old. The state of disrepair, I feel,  can only lend more credibility and strengthen their standing in the records of mankind. I have withstood the test of time, they say, I have seen the passing of history through centuries and I have the scars to show for it.

 Stained Glass Window In A locked Room-Picture taken through a broken glass pane in the door.

You shall not view me through tinted glasses. This is real.

Home for a Homing Pigeon?


The Old Maid said...

I love the hall and the Ganesh Pol and all the detilesof filigree screens and windows and this colour and light full stained glass window and the garden. Thank you for sharing this adventure with us, Sans.:) Great photos too!

Kim said...

oh my gosh- the beauty! I don't know how you could have torn yourself away- I could stare for hours just at the windows! I have to say again how grateful I am that you brought your camera along with you! I really want to see the Kesar Kyari Bagh in bloom- I will have to see the colors in my imagination :)

Janice said...

What an amazing place. So many things to see and admire. You must have felt overwhelmed for a while. It also looks very peaceful which is not the ususal impression of India.
Thank you for sharing these photos

Drora's minimundo said...

Thank you dear Sans for the pictures and for sharing your impressions with us.

Kikka said...

So glorious! Charming colours and shapes, beautiful athmosphere, `the stained glass window` was stunning...and the Photos of the `Jalli screens to shield the women in the harem` made me wander "in thoughts and stories of some books"

The picture;"Welcome to my "humble" abode?" is my favourite.. Is there mosaic-details?


Ascension said...

Entre la musica, el texto y esas preciosas fotografias.....
Sans, no se que he
quedado en extasis.
Bueno si......gracias por llevar contigo en tus viajes la camara de fotos.
Entre la musica, el texto y esas preciosas fotografias.....
Es una verdadera gozada visitar tu blog, lo deberia recomendar el medico cuando estas baja de moral.
Sra. a sido un placer volver a visitarla.
besitos ascension

Katie said...

..Stunning Sans! Stunning! It's just so beautiful!

Ana Anselmo said...

This is a magic place!!!! I love to see the pictures , to read your explanations, everything!
thank you very much Sans, to share your trip with all of us.
You must come to Lisbon...

Flora said...

Dear Sans, your travels are so exotic and exciting that my eggs leave me puzzled ... Sometimes I wonder what other life I would live, but now I have this, which is not bad, and luckily I read Sans blog, to learn things in the world that I can not see myself. Coming to the maharajah ... did not miss anything!
Mini hugs, Flora

Dark Squirrel Victoria said...

Beautiful Sans! I love the idea of a saffron garden.

Victoria ♥

Lataina said...

This is just all so beautiful!!! Thank you so much for sharing, Sans. =)

rosanna said...

When you were in India M and I watched a program on tv showing exactly Amber Fort. We thought of you and wondered if you were going to see it; there you went !! Stunning palace ! lucky girl :o)))

malu2 said...

Que maravilla,que palacio mas maravilloso,las fotos son espectaculares,me encantado tu relato,estamos viajando contigo!!!!!!

Papillon Bleu said...

Sans, how can we thank you for writing such magnificent and oh so very instructive lines?
Thank you for sharing the story , the History , and the breath taking beauty.
Sans, thank you, thank you, thank you.

BiWuBär said...

The amount of details... you could spend a week or even month at this place and there would still be things to discover... Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I especially love that Kesar Kyari Bagh and the idea that it shall remind a Persian rug, a rug from colours, what a lovely thought. To me being used to Mid-European architecture history, mainly gothic and romanic, those columns were a breathtaking view.


Daydreamer said...

Ah, Sans! I Don't know what to say! I am in HEAVEN! The details.... the Beauty.... the location, the History, the Mystery, the ancient feeling... the worn and half gone pieces.... I am truly swooning with delight! It is all just so DIVINE! And you are such a wonderful guide.... I imagine you have a Thousand and one pictures O ShaheraSans! and you must choose just the ones to enchant us the most! I AM Enchanted! In my art I know I can really only paint what I have seen with my own eyes..... but seeing these pictures makes me understand the Persian Miniatures so much better.... I can tell you, I am drooling over every single picture.... thank you for this chance to see places I may never see with my own eyes! I can imagine you are now, MORE than EVER wanting to make your Maharajah's Palace in Miniature..... SUCH an adventure you are on.... Thank you for sharing, DEAR Sans! :):)

Rosamargarita said...

Realmente es una tierra muy hermosa Sans!, la foto de los elefantes es impresionante, e realidad lo es todo.
Un abrazo

Sans! said...

Thank you, Ewa :):). I was also motivated by your last post on metal work details to make this post. I love that in some ways , we are exchanging information and pictures on ancient architecture :):).

In Singapore, anything over a century is ancient :). This Amber Fort however is probably ancient by most standard. It was built between the 1600 to 1800 by 2 Maharajahs. I was very impressed by the Ganesh Pol as well. It is incredibly well preserved ! But the most fascinating of all was the never ending stream of elephants bringing in the tourists. I could not stop taking pictures :).

Sans! said...

Kim, we took so long to see the palaces in Amber Fort that we did not have time to visit the Shila Devi temple :) (also in the Fort). So we did spend quite some time there. To think that I was so ambitious and wanted to see another 2 forts on the same morning :). But after this we went to see the City palace and the Jantar Mantar instead.

I love the bagh as well. For a dry region, the Jaipur palaces really have gorgeous and lush baghs :):). I don't think the Kesar Kyari Bagh grow saffron anymore though. I don't know, but it seems pretty inaccessible to me :).

And I also love the Rajasthani words like "bagh" and "pol" :).

Sans! said...

Janice,certain parts of the palace ground really did give one a sense of tranquility. I don't have pictures that can accurately convey the size of this palace but the compound is huge!

This pic is from Wiki and it's a bird's eye view of the fort.

So despite the 1000s of tourists like the 1000s of people populating the fort in the days of yore, there were moments when you felt like you were alone (photo opportunities!!) That's why I can imagine a life of unhurried leisure and quiet lazy afternoons in perfumed gardens.

Once you stepped out of the pol into the car park however, you would immediately be swarmed with vendors hawking their wares :).

Sans! said...

Drora, the pleasure's all mine :):). Do you think you can show us pictures of your country someday? :)

bastrota said...

Ohh, what a lovely post about a lovely place, Sans!

You took beautiful photos - I wished, I could be there.

During the last weeks I hadn't the chance to blog or to visit your fantastic or other of my favorite blogs. I missed the blogging and the visits!

I missed the contact with you! Now I hope, that I will better times the next weeks.

Hugs and greetings

Snowfern said...

woooahhh those are gorgeous pictures *jaws drop*

Sans! said...

Kikka, funny you should ask about detailed shots of mosaic work because I was planning that the last post on this Maharajah series be detailed shots of the intricate work of this amazing palace we stayed in in the last leg of our journey in Jaipur .

You know I have always been fascinated with the lives of the harem women. I had thought their lives stifled. Some of them arrived at the palace and never left again until the day they died! But I read that many of them in fact love being behind the jalli.

One day I will write a post on the last Maharani of Jaipur. I read her autobiography and finished it over 24 hours :).

I will let my friend know that the picture she took of me is your fav :). That's the only one not taken by me of course :):).

Sans! said...

Ascensión, usted habla muy bien de mí! Pero estoy tan feliz te gusta viajar conmigo:). Francamente, yo no creo que la gente se encuentra de vacaciones con fotos interesantes. Estoy muy contento de mis amigos los quiero blogosfera. Incluso mi familia no he visto las fotos. Y no pidió para ellos .. jajaja.

No sé si voy a ser un buen médico para la gente triste, pero una cosa es segura. Cada vez que estoy triste, vengo aquí para leer los comentarios y de inmediato será un placer:). Todos ustedes son buenos médicos para mí;)

amor y abrazos y muchos besos

Sans! said...

Thank you dear Katie. So happy that my photographs are appreciated :). But then again, I have a fascinating subject matter . :)

Sans! said...

Ana, I think about going to Portugal a lot :):) That will be a trip I visit you , then all my dear friends in Spain and also Poland :):). Who knows, maybe early next year :)? Even when I am running, I think about Portugal :).

This morning, I went to visit my beautician for my monthly facial treatments (do you guys do that? It's very common here in Singapore :) ) because she will be leaving for Central/ Eastern Europe for a 2 week holiday next week. She is seeing 12 cities in 16 days :):) and these cities include those in Prague, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Germany, Holland etc. LOL! All the time on a coach! OMG! I will need a holiday after that holiday!

So happy you enjoyed these pictures :)

Sans! said...

O Flora ! You flatter me . My posts cannot begin to describe some of the thrill of travelling :).

But you know what my crystal ball says about you? Hmmm...I see faraway places, exotic foods and fascinating strangers :). I see you travelling, my dear friend. My crystal ball says it is in your blood and therefore it will happen :)

Sans! said...

Victoria, I am very curious too . Now I want to smell a saffron flower :). I read that a saffron flower has 150 volatile and aroma yielding compound . Does it mean it is especially fragrant? The smell has been described to resemble "sea air" or metallic honey with grassy or hay like note (probably the spice). But someone wrote on a blog about harvest (saffron) time in Kashmir (Kashmiri saffron are the best apparently) and described how it was absolutely intoxicating standing in the middle of the field soaking in its fragrance :).

Sans! said...

Thank you for being here, Lataina :)

Sans! said...

Wow, Rosanna, a documentary on India's palaces? I will love to watch it! Even after I have seen them in person, I will never tire of reading more about them or watching documentaries relating to them. The show must have been in Italian though :). How I wish our History channel have programs about Maharajahs and their palaces :).

This is a dream for me. I am sure you won't remember but I have shot so many pictures using my book trick with pictures of these very places to showcase my minis :). Now my real pictures gives me so much more pleasure :). Maybe I can photoshop them to with my minis in them ..hehe :).

Sans! said...

Abróchense los cinturones de seguridad, querida María Luisa:), que va a viajar mucho:).


Sans! said...

Patricia, I am humbled by your compliments ! Actually, I am doing the post for myself more than anything else since I didn't think many will be interested. So many pictures on Amber Fort in the blogosphere that are so much better than mine too :).

I wrote an explanation for me because I am interested in harem life. :) I am really looking forward to eventually building my own Zenana. Hopefully by that time, my skills will have improved enough to do a credible job :).

Sans! said...

Birgit, that's why this Maharajah series seem to just go on and on and on :):).

This morning when my beautician asked me about India , I actually told her about Amber Fort. I told her I am likely to go back to India again because the country is so fascinating and different. Beyond the surface, there is so much to offer from this ancient civilisation.

My last visit to Europe, more than a year ago now, made me enjoy Europe for the 1st time :). But India is different and like no other.

My best friend is going to Central Asia in 2 weeks . Now that is the home of the Great Timur who brought what is now Mughal art to India. "Spectacular and stately edifices erected by Timur and his successors in Samarkand and Herat helped to disseminate the influence of the Ilkhanid school of art in India"- wiki :):). I so want to go to Central Asia , especially Samarkand :)

Sans! said...

Betsy :):) That stained glass shot is for you. And I hope you will be here when I post about Samode and the City Palace. I really want to show you the painted mosaics and the miniature paintings on the walls. Well preserved frescoes of subject matter you will love.

You are the only one in our community I know who paint murals on real and mini walls . It is inevitable that I think of you when I am taking these detailed pictures. And when you tell me you love seeing them, I feel really comforted and rewarded :). Thank you, dear Betsy.

Thank God for digital camera. For every shot that you see, there are at least 3-4 similar shots :). It was never easy for me to pick only 5 per palace. Impossible actually because I take many of the pictures with stories in mind :). And if I don't post these pictures on the blog, they just remain in my computer and hardly anyone view them :):):).

Sans! said...

Rosamargarita, creo que me tomó cerca de 20 tiros de la caravana de elefantes :):). Estoy tan feliz de verte aquí!


Sans! said...

It is good to see you here Marion :). Blogland is every bit as demanding as real life. It is impossible to keep up with everyone's blogs all the time :):). So visit when you can and don't overdo it :):).

I am glad you have enjoyed my simple photo journal on Amber Fort. The background facts are to the best of my recollection what my guide told us and some research from books and online articles. I hope I have been fairly accurate :).

Sans! said...

*pick up jaw and return to Cindy :)

Glenda said...

OK, I've tried to pick my favourite bit, but it's just not possible!! I'm gobsmacked by the beauty of all of it!
Thankyou for sharing these photos with us, Sans!
xxx Glenda

Jollie said...

What a beauty Sans!!
I love those stunning photos... my gosh they are so amazingly gorgeous :)
Thanks so much for sharing!

Hugs Jollie

Daydreamer said...

Dear Sans! I Cannot WAIT for those posts.... I will try not to hold my breath! These pictures do mean a lot to me! Thank you for the stained glass picture! Such Beauty! And still preserved! Thank You!

Sans! said...

Glenda, my photographs pale in comparison to the works of masters like the ones in my next post :). Although I am claiming some resemblance of 1 particular picture by a certain Mr Rao with my mini scene. O my, dare I even think it? *whispers - could he have copied my work? I can hear very loud snickering now! But ...

For those of you who thought I could be remotely serious, I am happy to tell you that you know me ...not at all :).

Sans! said...

Jollie :) I think words like stunning and gorgeous belong with the ones in my next post. :) But thank you. I think you are gorgeously stunning and vice versa yourself :)

Sans! said...

THANK YOU, Betsy :)

Ana Anselmo said...

well, I hope your beautician is young and strong LOL...because seeing 12 cities in 16 days in so many countries, I will be dead in the end!!!! to be true, in the middle of the trip, I would cry for help!!!!

dale's dreams said...

I love, love, love all of these photographs! This is the beauty of India, the buildings and the people. :)

Sans! said...

Ana, my beautician is in her 60s but is fit. She exercises regularly but so do I and I don't think I want to do 12 cities in 16 days LOL!

Sans! said...

Thank you Dale :):). India is a tough country but definitely not one you can be indifferent to :).

Blog Widget by LinkWithin